Achieving work-life balance in a hybrid work environment

Liam Ryan, Vice President for Asia Pacific, Ivanti

The COVID-19 pandemic abruptly sent everyone home from the office – and sent IT scrambling to help everyone get connected. It was hasty and messy and often chaotic, despite valiant efforts from IT.

The office-as-default structure that dominated the business landscape for generations is likely never to return. That means organisations need to establish permanent solutions that will keep remote and hybrid workers engaged, happy and productive while keeping the organisation and its data secure.

And yet, at the same time, the IT department is incurring additional burdens due to an unprecedented shortage of workers caused by The Great Resignation that has hit the IT sector worldwide hard.

Globally, the shortage of cybersecurity professionals is estimated to be 2.72 million. To further complicate matters, there has been a stratospheric uptick in cyberattacks, particularly ransomware.

While the IT department is trying to do more with fewer resources, it can get exhausting and unsustainable in the long term. 

And it’s not just IT that’s feeling the heat. Employees are feeling fatigued and overtaxed, and that is leading to even more turnover.

Enterprises around the world are recognising the fact that in order to attract and retain great talent in this new landscape, they need to create an environment that people want to be in.

How can that be accomplished when there’s already too much to do and not enough people to do it? Here are three strategies that leaders can implement right now:

Redefine work-life balance

Remember the dark ages before the Internet?

Workers would clock out at the end of the day and return to their non-work lives. They were, quite literally, unplugged.

Then came 24/7 connectivity, when people would physically leave the office at the end of the day but take their work home with them.

The remote and hybrid workplace has ushered in a whole new era, further blurring the lines between work and the rest of people’s lives. When you work and live in the same place, when does work begin? When does it end?

It is up to leaders to set a standard for connectivity and obligation to the company.

Performance is no longer measured by the hours spent at the desk. It must be measured in results, and that means leaders must emphasise boundaries.

Perhaps there’s a “no-meeting Fridays” rule, or a “no email on weekends” rule. Whatever it is, make it clear, make it fair and hold people accountable.

Create a sense of purpose

People want to work for companies that are making a difference and they also need to believe that they as individuals are making a difference.

They’re increasingly leaving their jobs if they don’t believe in the vision and mission.

Leaders must be able to convey that the company is focused on delivering global value and not just profits – and they also need to help every employee understand how their contributions tie in.

Automate, automate, automate

Perhaps the most effective way to alleviate burden on workers – IT in particular – is to embrace automation.

By automating repetitive data-intensive tasks, the IT department can reduce complexity, anticipate security threats, reduce unplanned outages and resolve endpoint issues before users report them.

This improves the cost, speed and accuracy of the services IT delivers, and allows IT to focus on the most critical and complicated tasks at hand.